Talking about death – it won’t kill you

Talking about death – it won’t kill you

It’s time to change the way Australians talk about death and dying – 75% of us have not had an end of life discussions and over 70% of us die in the hospital though most of us would prefer to die at home. August 8th is ‘DYING TO KNOW DAY’; a day that aims to encourage conversations about planning for the end of life. While many find conversations about death uncomfortable, planning for such an event can make it more bearable for all when the time comes. This preparation should include a Will, an Enduring Power of Attorney and an Advanced Care Directive.

An Advanced Care Directive allows you to outline your wishes for the future should something unexpected happen that results in you becoming incapacitated. This includes directions such as what type of care you may want to receive, whether you would prefer treatment at home or in a hospital, and who can make decisions about your health and lifestyle should you not be able to.

Similarly, an Enduring Power of Attorney is a legally-binding document that allows you to appoint somebody who can make financial decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated and unable to make those decisions yourself.

A professionally drafted Will is also essential for directing what you want to happen to your assets when you pass away, i.e. how they are distributed amongst any beneficiaries.

While “Do-It-Yourself” kits are available there are inherent dangers in drafting any of these important documents yourself.

The Advanced Care Directive DIY Kit is a 74-page document that contains a lot of legal jargon and references to legislation. Attempting to understand and complete this can be complicated and overwhelming for many. Having your Advanced Care Directive prepared by a specialised lawyer will ensure that your wishes are set out and expressed in accordance with the legal requirements.

Appointing a Power of Attorney has serious financial and legal consequences for you and the person you appoint so receiving professional advice before appointing somebody is critical.

“Do-It-Yourself” Will kits pose similar, and perhaps more dangerous, risks. Although a DIY Kit may seem more appealing economically, the short-term saving could, and usually does, lead to increased costs when the time comes to administer the Estate. Common dangers include:

  • Ambiguity – without language that complies with the laws the wording of the Will could be open to interpretation and lead to disputes;
  • Invalidity – too often a “Do-It-Yourself” Will is not properly signed and/or witnessed and therefore invalid;
  • Complex Financial Situations – a “Do-It-Yourself” Will may not properly take into account the complexity of your financial situation, including matters like superannuation, investments, etc;
  • Contingency Plans – a “Do-It-Yourself” kit may not provide you with options should something change in the future, whether it be a beneficiary failing to survive you, or the executor of your Will being unable to perform their duties.

Avoiding these dangers is part of what we do at Belperio Clark. We have specialised lawyers with years of experience in these fields that can guide you through the process and ensure that your end of life plans are set out in an unambiguous and precise manner.

Dealing with death is already difficult, so providing your loved ones with direction for your end of life plans is critical – which is why we encourage all of our clients to plan ahead.

To discuss how you can plan ahead and protect yourself and your loved ones please contact us on (08) 8212 1322.

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